tv Countdown With Keith Olbermann MSNBC March 10, 2010 1:00am-2:00am EST
what advances our national security interest. what's most consonant with our values. let's stop speaking about lack of patriotism, lack of integrity with people with which we disagree. there's no fundamental difference between slamming the lawyers that work in the former justice department and slamming them "b" their clients and their positions. >> david rivkin, formerly with the justice department in the reagan and the first bush administrations. thank you for your insights tonight. >> good to be with you. that will have to do it for this tuesday edition of "countdown." i'm lawrence o'donnell in for keith olbermann. you can catch "countdown" live every weeknight at 8:00 p.m. eastern, 5:00 pacific. which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? the massa media tour. the now former congressman does another about-face on television.
>> i wasn't forced out. i forced myself out. >> but the saga gets nastier with reports that massa was being investigated not for just salty language but for groping male staffers. >> yeah, i did. i didn't not only grope him. i tickled him until he couldn't breathe and his four guys jumped on me. >> as nancy pelosi looks for health care reform, protesters take to the streets. and how is this for motivation to pass reform? >> if this passes and it's five years from now and all that stuff gets implemented, i'm leaving the country. >> history according to karl rove. his political memoir hits book stores, bush's brain is already hard at work twisting the truth on wmd in iraq and the lies continue about the outing of valerie sflam. >> do you think you owe scott
mcclellan any kind of apology for what he stood and said to the media on those three occasions? >> none whatsoever. >> scott mcclellan will join us. the cbs news producer who attempted to blackmail letterman pleads guilty. we'll have the latest. lindsey graham joins the growing chorus of conservatives outraged by liz cheney's ad. we'll talk to another name on that list, obama critic and former justice department official, david rivkin. all that and more now on "countdown." good evening from new york. i'm lawrence o'donnell in for keith olbermann. we asked former democratic congressman eric massa to appear on tonight's program with me, but he said no. i may be the only one who asked
him to appear because glenn beck asked him to appear on his show tonight and massa said yes. he gave him details of high jinx, rescinded his claim that democratic leaders forced him out. but mostly what he did was make glenn beck apologized for his entire program. not hyperbole. you'll see it. just yesterday rush limbaugh, beck and others said how important it was to listen to massa. limbaugh backtracked today saying, all i knew was this guy was telling great stories about rahm emanuel. but then new stories emerged today that the house ethics committee has been investigating massa, not just for comments, but allegations he groped three staffers and behaved inappropriately with interns. massa today denied wrongdoing, but said his departure from congress, which he had portrayed as part of the democrats' plan to pass health care, was, in
fact, his own fault. >> can i just start off with something? >> sure. >> i wasn't forced out. i forced myself out. i failed. i didn't live up to my own codes. i own this. i take full and complete responsibility for my misbehavior, and goodness only knows what allegations they're going to throw at me. there's even new ones today. we'll talk about that. i'm not -- >> wait -- >> now they're saying i groped a male staffer. yeah, i did. not only did i grope him, i tickled him until he couldn't breathe and four guys jumped on top of me. it was my 50th birthday. it was kill the old guy. you can take anything out of context. by the way -- we all live together. all the bachelors and me because nobody can afford in washington, d.c., to pay the outrageous rent. my chief of staff had a conniption and said, you can't
live there. that's not congressional. so i moved into my office. but it's true. here's the point, glenn, no matter what i say, it doesn't matter. if somebody on my staff was offended, was uncomfortable, thought i was inappropriate, i own that. it's why i resigned. we all signed a code that i wrote -- a code of ethics in january, because we wanted to tighten the ship up. that's why i resigned. i mean, i don't know how else to put it. i own this misbehavior. it doesn't make any difference what my intentions were. it's how it's perceived by the individual who receives that action. and we set it up so that it could be completely -- >> your name is at stake here. >> and i -- >> no, no, no. not just your name -- >> everybody's name. >> your children's. >> that's right. >> so there's something called honor. you are a navy guy. honor. >> glenn, the only thing i can do is slit my wrists and bleed out here -- i'm telling you, i
was wrong. i was wrong. i should have never allowed myself to be as familiar with my staff as i was. i never translated from my days in the navy to being a congressman. but i did not -- >> no, tickle fights in the navy. i've never been in the navy. i don't know about tickle fights. >> i'm going to show you something. >> you're going to show me tickle fights? >> i'm going to show you more than tickle fights. >> can you get this? >> that's a crossing the line ceremony in 1983. if you were to take this out of context today -- >> i don't know if you can show that -- yeah. >> can you imagine transporting back to this today? it looks like an orgy in "caligula." >> maybe he should have tickled glenn beck. glenn beck bet his entire show on eric massa and lost. as you saw, beck strived
mightily to recruit massa to fight the evil powers beck world sees at work in this country, but face-to-face with the man, he himself invited on to blow the whistle on all that corruption, beck failed to get any, any evidence of it. >> is there anything new to his charges of corruption? we've told you about corruption on this program over and over and over again. do you believe what he says about corruption in washington? this is where i want you to go. you tell me something that i don't know about corruption. do you believe what he's saying about corruption? the other part of it is corruption. do you believe what he says about corruption? you claim that the system is corrupt. i agree with you. tell me something about the unions and how the unions are working or any -- i don't care. any kind of corruption. you have talked about corruption. but we all complain about corruption. is there anything specific that you have? >> i'm telling you what happened. >> you don't really have
anything except what i say. makes blood shoot out of my eyes. okay. >> in fact, beck not only failed to substantiate his conspiracy theories, but when he asked what people can do to rid america of the evil he sees, massa could not have disappointed beck more. >> tell us what you know. make a difference now. pick up a shovel and show us where to throw the dirt. >> the most important thing that people can do is to get involved. i mean, it's that simple. >> no, no, no, no. >> and vote. >> no, no. >> go ahead. >> please don't be a commercial. >> all right. >> everybody knows that. people -- you're in. you claim that the system is corrupt. i agree with you. >> demand that we do one thing in congress. and that's change campaign finance reform. because nothing else matters until we do that. until we do that, nothing will change.
[ laughter ] >> and that was it. but with still almost half an hour to fill, beck grew desperate and openly begged for dirt on rahm emanuel. here's what happened next straight through to the end of the show. >> did he threaten, harass or intimidate you? >> he made it very clear that i better vote with the president. >> did he do it in a threatening or intimidating or harassing -- >> well, i wasn't intimidated because, you know, do i look like someone's that's going to indim at a time? i took it to be humorous, like you have to be kidding me. >> okay. >> but then again, he and i aren't friends. i owe an apology. on my radio show i went over the top. i said he would tie his kids to the railroad to get a vote. he wouldn't do that. he may tie my kids to the railroad to get a vote, but not his. so in hyperbole, i was joking.
i went over the top. enough said on that. >> america, i'm going to shoot straight with you. i think i've wasted your time. i think this is the first time i have wasted an hour of your time, and i apologize for that. because i think we could have spent a lot less time -- you are backtracking a lot. you're a lot -- >> i'm not backtracking. i'm telling you what happened. >> you say corruption and you don't have anything except what i say. you don't -- you're now apologizing to rahm emanuel. >> that was sarcastic, glenn. did you get that? >> no, i didn't. but -- >> i said he would tie my children to the railroad tracks. listen, rahm emanuel is very good at making enemies and he's not very good at making friends. that's why this administration is having such a hard time gets things done. because what has to be done now has to deal with open dialogue and consensus building and
compromise. you can't compromise when someone's coming at you with a finger in your chest. you simply can't do that. there is no compromise. it's my way or the highway. i once had someone tell me, you have to vote with the president. this is the president's first piece of legislation. and i said, the president didn't vote for me. >> congressman, former congressman, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> my best to you and your sweet wife and your children. back in a second. this is why i said i'm sorry i've wasted your time. we learned a lot, i think, but what we learned i don't think affects you at all. from new york, good night, america. >> let's bring in msnbc political analyst and group tickling expert howard fineman. he's also the senior washington correspondent and political columnist for "newsweek." howard, it seems like glenn beck really did meet his match today. the craziest guy at fox meets
the craziest man on congress on live tv for an hour and nothing happened? >> well, first of all, lawrence, the notion that the entire navy is like this gigantic writhing pile of people tickling each other was a great one. and you could tell glenn beck just sinking on that one, among many other things. i actually think the white house thought that something did happen because, as a result of this show especially, you know, the hopes that rush and beck and others had to somehow use massa as a battering ram to try to destroy the credibility of the white house on health care, ipt didn't happen. as a matter of fact, i think even for fox viewers, if they looked at this for the whole hour and saw that those two guys together oppose obama care, it might even make fox viewers want
to vote for obama care if those tworp against it. the white house was surprised and delighted with the result. >> yeah, john boehner was playing it a little bit safe today when reporters were pressing him about massa, he said to reporters, watch glenn beck today. so how did that work out for boehner? >> oh, my gosh, it didn't work out for them at all. i mean on one level, it was great television, because it was unpredictable. and you can see glenn beck wasn't sure what he was going to get. he was like an 8-year-old hoping to get a big tasty bowl of ice cream with chocolate sauce on it. instead it was this sort of big hunk of overripe cheese. it was terrible. and he couldn't stand it within ten minutes of the thing because, as you pointed out, massa backtracked on blaming rahm emanuel. he didn't have any eyewitnesss for the supposed famous shower confrontation scene. he blamed himself. he said it was his fault.
he had the ridiculous notion that somehow he was incorporating the navy's crossing the line ceremony, which is a thing when you cross the equator and so forth, this is how he's conducting his life. massa admitted to groping. he said flat out, yeah, i groped these people. that was more than enough to kill whatever smidgen of credibility massa may have had as a critic of the way the white house operates. the way the things work around here, at least for the time being the white house will get a news cycle or two of breathing space. they really do twist arms and try to get obama care passed. >> what happens to massa now? when he resigns the house, does the ethics committee investigation end immediately? >> yes, i think the investigation will end because they really can't -- they could probably do something after the fact. i don't think they generally do that if somebody immediately quits the congress, which he had done. and said he did it because of his personal behavior. he's basically pleading nolo
contendere there. there could be a civil suit, perhaps. there could be separate criminal charges, but i doubt it. although, in "the washington post," his former staff member did come forward by name to accuse him of improper behavior. where that goes from now, i don't know. i will tell you, the white house didn't force this guy out, that's not true, and he admitted as much. but it is true that the white house was very happy to see him discredited, and also, frankly glad to see him gone. but i believe them when they say they did not launch this ethics investigation to try to force him out. as a matter of fact, they were hoping until last week, to try to convert him to vote for the bill. he was on the list of liberals who wanted a single-payer plan, they were hoping to convince at the end. it's also not true that at the time he decided to leave, that they were pressuring him to get out because they wanted 216 votes in the house. at the moment he decided to quit the republican congressman nathan dele was still leaving, which would have already brought it to 216 without massa.
>> howard, quickly, before we go, who has done more damage to the image of the navy, congressman massa or the village people? >> i would say congressman massa. it's too bad they didn't show those close-ups from what i gather was his naval academy yearbook. i would like to see what that crossing the line ceremony did look like. >> i have a feeling we'll get our hands on those pictures eventually. howard fineman of "newsweek" and msnbc, thank you for covering the crazy congressman beat tonight. the final push for health care reform. protesters take to the streets of d.c. to show lawmakers on capitol hill they do want the democrats to get something done. and the man known as bush's brain starts his book tour. we'll discuss how karl rove is trying to run away from the facts with our exclusive guest, former bush white house press secretary scott mcclellan. advisor:... ms. davis, this is onstar.
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pelosi with votes in the house. and later, conservative legal scholars continue their all-out assault against liz cheney. conservative politicians are joining the cause, too. senator lindsey graham takes liz to task. that is a ton of pepperoni. ( cracking, crash ) that was delivered fast! it's not delivery and we'd like it back. new digiorno ultimate toppings pepperoni, with 50% more pepperoni. taste. believe. it's not delivery, it's digiorno.
premiums and the insurance executives who impose them. today's protesters marched through downtown washington headed toward the ritz-carlton where they hope to make a symbolic citizens arrest of insurance industry executives who were holding their annual meeting at the hotel. before they set out, the crowd was cheered on by former vermont governor and dnc chairman howard dean, also a former family physician. this morning, white house press secretary robert gibbs told abc news that he does not believe health care reform will cost democrats in november's midterm elections. >> i think this will be an accomplishment that members can be proud of not just in this election, george, but for decades to come. we'll have finally done something on health insurance reform that means something real to american families, to small business owners that are struggling with those high costs. that's what's important to the american people. we were sent here to do
something. >> more evidence that democrats might be able to sell reform once it passes. in a private democratic poll obtained by jonathan cohn of the new republic, 51% of voters opposed reform. as did 47% of older voters. once the benefits of reform were explained to voters, the number of independents opposed to health care legislation dropped to 39%. among older voters it dropped to 37%. and doing his best to incentivize democrats, rush limbaugh has warned that if health care reform passes, he will leave and move to costa rica, where the government, of course, provides socialized health care for all its residents. >> where would i go for health care? >> yeah. if the private doctors have to go into the federal program? >> i don't know. i'll just tell you this. if this passes and it's five
years from now and all that stuff gets implemented, i am leaving the country. i'll go to costa rica. >> let's bring in the founder and publisher of daily kos, marcos mon marcos monthlitsas. also the author of "taking the system." markos, in your wildest dreams, did you ever imagine the democrats could be clever enough to write and maybe pass a health care bill that would provide health care coverage to 30 million americans and get rid of rush limbaugh? >> it's the cherry on top. so to speak. this is a great accomplishment, i think. it's not everything that we wanted as progressives. it's a long way toward that, but as a first step, it's a very important first step. i look forward to all its provisions implemented in four years. i look forward to improvements in this legislation in four years and i do look forward to rush limbaugh leaving the country.
>> when alec baldwin once threatened to leave the u.s. if bush won re-election, limbaugh had a great time with that. went on and on about it endlessly. and specifically mocked the idea of moving to canada because of canada's socialized health care system. rush limbaugh said he didn't know where he would have to go to have the health care system he wants. i'm not sure the health care system rush wants exists anywhere on the planet. do you know where you might recommend for rush to find his absolute perfect private sector health plan? >> it wouldn't be costa rica, but i'll tell you what probably will work. i think somalia would be great for rush. it's a libertarian paradise, everybody has guns, there's not much of a government, there sure as heck isn't government-run health care. i think if you're talking about rush's world view, i can't imagine a better place than somalia, as long as he can find himself a nice $20 million pad in mogadishu. >> the sharpest criticism i've
heard of the obama bill, the democrats bill came on this show last night by dennis kucinich. it made me wonder if dennis kucinich had been sitting on the republican side of the table at the big forum with obama it might have turned out differently. kucinich criticizes this from his perspective on the left it doesn't do enough. he knocks down democratic talking points point by point. how is the kucinich position being received out there in the liberal blogosphere? >> it's definitely a very ralph nader-esque approach to politics, a very unrealistic and self-defeating approach. ralph nader paved the way for eight years of george bush and wars and attack on our civil liberties and in our economy. and i'm going to hold people like dennis kucinich responsible for the 40,000 americans that die each year from a lack of health care. i don't care if you're a
republican or a conservative democrat or somebody like dennis kucinich. this does a heck of a lot for poor people. like i said, it's not perfect. it definitely needs to be improved. but it's a first step. god knows it has taken us a long time to get our toe in the door given the corporate interests that are against any kind of real reform. i think this is a first step, it's not the end of the path, it's not the ideal solution, but our foot's in the door, and if somebody like kucinich wants to block that, i find that completely reprehensible. >> is it reprehensible enough to mount a primary challenge against him? we've seen that some democrats are dissatisfied with blanche lincoln on the moderate side, being too moderate. they want to challenge her in the primary. is it possible to be too liberal and not practical enough and therefore merit a challenge in the primary? especially if dennis kucinich votes against this bill as he promises he will? votes against this bill in the house of representatives? >> yeah, absolutely. i don't think he gets a pass, i don't care what his excuse is. this is a good first step. he's elected not to run for president, which he seems to do
every four years. he's not elected to grandstand and give us this ideal utopian society. he's elected to represent the people of his district. and he's not representing the uninsured constituents in his district by pretending to take the high ground here. what he's doing, he's undermining this reform, he's making common cause with republicans, and i think that's a perfect excuse and rationale for a primary challenge. >> markos moulitsas of "the daily kos." thanks for your time tonight. >> thank you very much. coming up, the man who tried to extort $2 million from david letterman finally gives up his fictional defense. we'll tell you how much jail time you can get for trying to extort your girlfriend's boyfriend. and a "countdown" exclusive. former white house press secretary scott mcclellan joins us to discuss karl rove's memoir. how much fact? how much fiction? at&t covers 97% of all americans. that's a lot of people. i've collected a few postcards
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ahead on "countdown," karl rove's version of history is on book store shelves. our special guest, scott mcclellan with the reality-based look inside the bush white house. and later, liz cheney's been ducking while one conservative after another rips apart her view that lawyers who represent detainees are terrorist sympathizers. tonight david rivkin, a former member of the reagan and bush justice department, does the honors.
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for karl rove, campaigning for george w. bush has never ended. from the state house in austin, then the white house, and now in his new book "courage and consequence." rove tries to push his old boss into the greatest presidents category. "many of the nation's most accomplished presidents -- lincoln, fdr, reagan -- were polarizing figures during their times in office. there seem to be no bombshell revelations in this book, but there are a lot of denials. for instance, he said he had nothing to do with the 2000 south carolina primary rumor that john mccain fathered a black baby out of wedlock. he claims he was not involved in the swift boating of john kerry in any way, though rove, who never served a day in the military, admits he loved it.
he also insists that george w. bush was right on iraq. in a chapter unpersuasively titled "bush was right on iraq." however, rove allows that without the threat of wmd, the campaign for war in iraq would have sunk. would the iraq war have occurred without wmd? i doubt it. congress was very unlikely to have supported the use of force resolution without the wmd threat. we'll see what our next guest says about that. scott mcclellan worked alongside karl rove in the bush white house for six years. he will join me exclusively in just a moment. first, this morning, karl rove left the fox den to sell his book on "the today show" and matt lauer challenged him on iraq. >> from bob woodward's book "state of denial," he writes, in october 2002, the top
intelligence officer, james "spider" marks, in charge of looking for wmd in iraq, looked at a list of 946 wmd sites and found, quote, he couldn't say with confidence there were any weapons of mass destruction or stockpiles at a single site. >> well, that's one. >> but you said it was worldwide. there was disagreement. >> there was a consensus. it doesn't imply that everyone agreed. but it imply tlas the preponderance of the evidence and the majority agreement was there were wmd. you can go back and try to rewrite history, but at that moment, we were faced with the belief that he had wmd, he was a threat to the stability of the region and in the aftermath of 9/11, the calculus changed. >> scott mcclellan was the white house press secretary for george w. bush from 2003 to 2006, he's the author of "the new york times" best seller "what happened inside the bush white house and washington's culture of deception." karl rove was the second source in bob novak's column in which he outted cia agent valerie plame.
karl rove told you that it wasn't true, that he was not a source. he lied to you. he allowed you to repeat that lie to the press. matt lauer asked him about it this morning. let's just play that clip. >> on september 29th, 2003, on october 7th, 2003 and on october 10th, 2003, scott mcclellan, the press secretary for the white house went before the media and said in no uncertain terms, karl rove had nothing to do with giving her name. >> i didn't know her name. i didn't give her name. bob novak got it from someplace else. i'm not clear -- >> are you splitting hairs here? did you know that scott mcclellan was giving information that was not factually correct? >> it was accurate. it was accurate. i did not give her name. her name was given to bob novak by under-secretary of state richard armitage, a fact that nobody in america knows for three years. and when they find it out in august of 2006, it's a ho hum. "the washington post" writes an expull ka tory editorial saying why didn't we know with this
before and it's no big deal? >> do you think you owe scott mcclellan any kind of apology for what he said to the media on those three occasions? >> no, none whatsoever. >> scott mcclellan, i knew that rove was the source apparently before you did. i was the first to reveal that on "the huffington post," that he was the source to "time" magazine's matt cooper. you were out there in repeated instances having to deny that he had anything to do with that. how does it make you feel when you watch him today on "the today show" say he doesn't owe you an apology for anything? >> a couple things. first of all, i did receive personal assurances from karl, and that's why i went out there and said what i said. the president also assured me that karl had told him he wasn't involved in any way. i think what you're seeing is that karl is continuing to live in his own world here. he's the only one that thinks he was not involved in any effort to expose valerie plame's cia employment. he continues this cover story that i didn't know her name, and for that reason, he didn't leak her -- he couldn't have leaked her name. that's the cover story he's stuck with for a long time now.
the interesting thing is that karl rove actually did apologize to me on three occasions. back in july 2005, when it became known that he was involved, as you were talking about a second ago and helped to expose. karl personally called me on the phone, said, i apologize for what you're going through. the next day in the senior staff meeting he apologized to me in front of the entire senior staff. and then later that day, i came back to my office after the press briefing and found a handwritten letter in my chair, written by karl rove, apologizing yet again. so i think it's kind of interesting. i'll leave it to other people to judge what it says about someone who will privately make such an apology, but is afraid to make that same apology publicly when the cameras are rolling and the spotlight's on him. >> well, scott, what does that tell us about the value of the book? just looking at that one chapter, that one situation where he's publicly saying there's no reason for me to
apologize to scott mcclellan, and he has, in fact, apologized to you three times in front of several witnesses, according to what you just said. what could possibly be the page turning value of this kind of book? >> well, i don't know that there is much. nothing in it surprises me. i probably could have written this book from karl's perspective myself. i know exactly where he's coming from. you know, the reason washington is broken and so poisonous and people don't want anything to do with it -- or most people don't, at least -- is because there's too little candor and too much intellectual dishonesty. and unfortunately, and not surprisingly, but unfortunately, we get both of those from karl rove in this book. you talked about the iraq war in the beginning and showed some clips about what he continues to say about the iraq war. let me just mention the key narrative in his book about the iraq war. karl tries to spin this narrative that since bush didn't
deliberately or sinisterly lie the nation into war, then somehow he was completely honest in how he went about, or the bush white house, how they went about selling the iraq war to the american people. he creates this false choice based on a false premise. yes, the intelligence community said there was biological and chemical weapons, they believe that to a high degree. but we did not stop there in selling the war. the case was built around saddam hussein being a grave and gathering danger because he had biological and chemical weapons, because he was close to having a nuclear weapon, because he had relations with al qaeda and because he had those relations with al qaeda that he might soon attack the united states. caveats and contradictory intelligence and doubts were ignored or just downplayed. and innuendo and implication were used in excess to try to sell this to the american people. the fact of the matter is that
saddam hussein, the intelligence said, was not likely to attack the united states unless he felt like his survival was at stake and he was about to be attacked by the united states. he did not have relations with al qaeda, at least not operational relations with al qaeda. and on the nuclear intelligence, there was a strong dissenting view about whether or not he was reconstituting his nuclear weapons program. the truth is, the white house embraced more of a political marketing campaign than a campaign based on candor, and that is a great disservice to the american people and the men and women in uniform, when we're going to war. the campaign should have been based on candor. it was not. it fell far short when it came to openness and forthrightness. and that's why the president's credibility was so damaged after it became known that there was no weapons of mass destruction to be found. >> scott, just finally before we go, the attitude we see from karl rove about all this, is that emblematic of a larger collective approach that existed in the white house in the ramp-up to the war?
>> well, look, karl rove is someone who's always had this mentality that politics is war. and he believes in winning at all costs. and that means embracing political spin and political manipulation to achieve what your goals are. you know, kind of like the japanese soldier long after world war ii is over, refusing to accept or believe that world war ii was over or had ended. how do you reason with someone like that? >> thank you for your time tonight, and thank you for your contributions to this history. >> thank you, lawrence. coming up, the real courage and consequence of conservatives. the republican backlash against liz cheney continues. senator lindsey graham, a military lawyer for 30 years is the latest to take liz cheney back to law school. and david letterman reacts to the end of the blackmail plot against him. the suspect pled guilty today and will spend time behind bars. host: could switching to geico really save you
the producer accused of trying to blackmail david letterman, drops his ridiculous cover story and pleads guilty today. david letterman's response ahead. and liz cheney schooled yet again by another conservative lawyer. i've been getting, um, headaches and a kind of pressure behind my eyes. i'm wondering if you've ever been checked for cortical spreading depression. [ doctor ] yeah. actually, he was. november 11, 2009. came back negative. march 23, 2007, a c.t. scan for nasal polyps -- also negative. [ male announcer ] by putting your medical history in one secure, easily accessible place, electronic medical records from ge will forever change the way the doctor sees you. thanks, guys. can i have my pants back, actually? ♪ youtube didn't exist. and facebook was still run out of a dorm room. when we built our first hybrid, more people had landlines than cell phones,
blackmail david letterman. former cbs news producer robert halderman admitted he tried to extort millions from "the late show" host. letterman told viewers about the plot last october while confessing to affairs with female staffers. as for mr. haldeman, his storytelling ended today. our correspondent is rehema ellis. >> reporter: robert haldeman, a longtime journalist at cbs told the court he was remorseful for attempting to blackmail the talk show host about his relationship with stephanie burkett, letterman's employee and haldeman's former live-in girlfriend saying, this was a thinly veiled threat to ruin mr. letterman if he did not pay me a lot of money. as a plea bargain, he was sentenced to six months in jail, five years probation and 1,000 hours of community service. >> i apologize to mr. letterman, his family, to stephanie burkett, to her family and certainly my friends and family. >> reporter: his defense attorney explained why haldeman
accepted the plea bargain. >> we weighed the prospects of going to trial, and thought this was the best way to resolve it. >> reporter: letterman's attorney issued a statement from the tv host who thanked the prosecutors and said, "on behalf of my family i'm extremely grateful for their tireless efforts." this case began last fall when haldeman was charged with blackmailing letterman. halderman wanted $2 million for what he claimed was a screenplay about a popular late night talk show host who slept with women on his staff. prosecutors said haldeman was desperate, in debt and furious after learning that letterman was having an affair with his girlfriend. >> hello, this is blackmail >> reporter: letterman went to police and then confessed to his audience. >> i have had sex with women who work for me on this show. >> reporter: now with the case resolved, some wonder if this chapter in letterman's career will have any lingering effect. >> the analytical headline is, dave pulls it off. he faced it down, he answered the questions and he's moving on
and his career isn't suffering at all. >> reporter: halderman begins serving his sentence in two months. as part of the plea arrangement, he cannot discuss or profit in any way from this case. lawrence? >> rehema ellis, thank you. last night, ken starr, of all people, made his debut with me on "countdown" to attack the shameful rhetoric coming from his cheney about lawyers representing terror suspects. tonight we bring you another prominent conservative attorney. david rivkin on the dangers of liz cheney's legal opinions next. big our community is, how do we know how big our hospitals need to be? the census helps us know exactly what we need, so everyone can get their fair share of funding. we can't move forward until you mail it back. 2010 census.
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cheney's reckless attack on justice department lawyers is mounting daily. and now senator lindsey graham, republican of south carolina, has joined the bipartisan criticism of not just the ad but the wholly un-american viewpoint that underlies it. the web ad, you will recall, straight from his cheney and bill kristol's group, keep america safe. it labelled as the al qaeda seven, lawyers who represented gitmo detainees, even called the united states department of justice the department of jihad. now senator graham, a member of the senate armed services committee and the judiciary committee as well as a navy j.a.g. lawyer in the reserves has spoken out. "i've been a military lawyer for almost 30 years. i represented people as a defense attorney in the military that were charged with some pretty horrific acts, and i gave them my all." "this system of justice that
we're so proud of in america requires the unpopular to have an advocate every time a defense lawyer fights to make the government do their job. that defense lawyer has made us all safer." senator graham also said i'm with kenneth starr on this one. mr. starr was, of course, my guest on this program yesterday, responding to liz cheney's tactics. starr has signed a letter denouncing cheney's web ad. the letter joined by some of the strongest defenders of bush anti-terror policies clearly condemned cheney's shameful series of attacks. let's bring in david rivkin, a lawyer who has served in the administrations of ronald reagan and george h.w. bush, including in the department of justice. he has been a vocal critic of certain obama administration policies, including its decision to try 9/11 conspirators in a civilian court.
but he signed that letter. mr. rivkin, i have to ask you, how does it make you feel when you hear the department of justice, where you took an oath to serve, called the department of jihad by a former vice president's daughter? >> it is enormously unfortunate. i think that these kinds of expressions do not belong in a reasoned discourse about difficult policy issues. so i hope we can move on and, again, deal with this as a civilized society. we should not be engaged in ad hominem attacks. lindy graham, by the way, is absolutely right. lawyers in our system are not the same as their clients. what the lawyers have done here is indeed essential to, in the long run, for the benefit of our justice system. even though i disagree very much with the positions taken by both lawyers. >> if you were to speak to liz
cheney or william kristol directly, what would you say to them regarding this ad? >> i would say it's unfortunate. i think we should not be demonizing the people involved, particularly the lawyers. let's concentrate on the policy positions. there's plenty of opportunities to argue what is the right way to try enemy combatants. what are the right detention policies. let's not impugn the integrity of people. that is totally inappropriate. but frankly, larry, it's inappropriate whether it's done by the left or the right. because we had numerous instances in the past where bush administration lawyers had their integrity impugned. >> it's one thing to hear these kind of ideas coming from people who never studied the constitution. but could you have imagined something like this coming from a law school graduate like liz cheney? >> i would probably say -- i'm not comfortable slamming anybody, be they lawyers on one side of this controversy. i imagine people get carried away with passion.
that unfortunately happens. you have people passionately believe that there are mistakes being done by the obama justice department. and i really hope we can put this behind us and concentrate on the policy, and again, as senator graham had to say, in our adversarial justice system, we need able lawyers on both sides of every dispute. i would never describe the view of a lawyer based upon their client. that's inappropriate. >> how can we discuss this area of the law? this evolving area of the law in which the supreme court has had to make some novel rulings, including rulings that favor some of these lawyers that are being condemned. how should we conduct ourselves in this dialogue going forward? >> if it were up to you or me, i think we could do it by concentrating on the policy position. let's argue passionately, let's argue with serious intellectual content. what advances our national security interest.